LIM College alumna Maya Colop-Morales is using her professional passions and the skills she learned at LIM to give back to her culture. As a manager for the nonprofit organization Handmade by Friendship Bridge®, Maya helps to promote and market the work of female artisans in her home country of Guatemala.
How did your educational background lead you to attend LIM?
Growing up in Guatemala, I was immersed in a rich culture with so many beautiful colors, and I knew I wanted to learn about the fashion industry. I looked for a college that would teach me about Fashion Marketing. And what I liked about LIM was that it offered a focus on entrepreneurship that would give me the necessary experience to fulfill my goal of serving entrepreneurs in Guatemala.
Can you tell us about the internships you completed as an LIM student?
Through my LIM internships, I really learned about retail and how to organize inventory. For example, I interned at Gucci and learned about high-end retail from the inside. As an intern with Delia’s, I learned that I loved doing color and textile forecasting. I walked the floor at textile trade shows and assisted the manager as she was buying textiles, which gave me great experience from the buyer’s side. I also interned for an independent color forecasting company and ended up taking a job there after I graduated!
How did your LIM coursework prepare you for your career?
I learned a lot of business and marketing principles in my LIM classes, and the connections from my internships helped me start my career. When I was at LIM, I wrote business plans for a fair-trade, ecofriendly accessories company I eventually started after returning to Guatemala. I also learned a lot about the U.S. market while living in New York, so when I came back to Guatemala, I immediately had opportunities to grow my business because I knew the market well.
Can you talk about your work with Handmade by Friendship Bridge? Why is this important to you?
My job allows me to serve talented artisans in Guatemala who may not have the opportunity to market their work otherwise. It’s important to me that I put my time, talent, and knowledge into the artisan’s economic development. I see the impact firsthand that Handmade by Friendship Bridge has had in these women’s lives. For example, our artisan Mirian has been able to enroll her son in a better education system directly because of the income she’s earned through her business. There is a generational impact.
What are your goals for the future?
I would love to see our Guatemalan artisans form more partnerships with larger markets to sell their products and ultimately thrive. I see myself continuing to empower more women and training them in entrepreneurship.